A guide to virtual events: lights, camera, action 

Expert Opinion
A guide to virtual events: lights, camera, action 

Sofie Sinoo shares some important factors to get right when hosting digital events.

There are various moving parts that need to be considered when organising an event, particularly in a Covid-19 world where digital events have boomed.

Virtual events are here to stay – research agency Gartner expects that by 2024 only a quarter of all business events will take place offline, compared to 60% in 2019.

Planning successful virtual events isn’t as simple as having a good internet connection and a laptop; there are multiple factors to contend with in order to keep audiences engaged.

Here are seven factors to consider:

  1. Budget 

With venue and catering costs out of the equation for a virtual event, a common misconception is that they don’t require much investment. To organise a virtual event and have it deliver the impact you want, this investment needs to shift to content and technology. Live broadcast-style digital events with an interactive programme of speakers work very well but can easily fall short if not enough thought and budget is put towards engaging content delivered in a seamless way.

  1. Tech support 

Just as with a physical event, the visual aspect of an online event also requires significant planning. Investing in the setting to better bring your content and the programme to life is crucial. For example, for talking head events consider having two cameras rather than just one to create a more dynamic feeling, rather than someone sat behind a laptop in their living room. The experience for the virtual participant will be more engaging and the effect is more professional. The same goes for sound quality, where it’s worth budgeting for even a basic microphone so that your messaging is delivered far more clearly. Also think about on-screen graphics or specially created videos to break up content.

  1. Immersive experiences 

Just like any other event, you need to plan to keep attendees engaged and provide the perfect guest experience. There are elements of live events that can be brought to a virtual one, such as delivering lunchboxes or drinks to participants’ homes. Branded gifts that best reflect the event even provide an opportunity for involvement from a sponsor to help with meeting costs.

  1. Increasing reach 

If we think back to traditional VIP events, the number of tickets available were limited. A digital event format allows for increased numbers of participants as organisers are not restricted by venue capacity. Behind the scenes video content, or interviews and access to high profile individuals via the digital event – and all not available anywhere else – can maintain a feeling of exclusivity.

  1. Integrating live events

Looking at the purpose of the event, bringing people together should remain a core focus of events – regardless of format. A digital event is a good opportunity to launch a product or service in an inspiring and safe way. In some cases it may be appropriate to have some guests together at a certain location, and others joining virtually. Mixing up the content, with both live elements and those taking place online, ensures a vibrant and engaging event. It is important to ensure that those taking part virtually feel part of any live action and have the ability to interact with what is happening, for example via messaging and voting applications specifically created for the event.

  1. Flexibility 

Hybrid events in particular encompass a huge range of different elements and suppliers, all of which need tightly managing and aligning towards the same goals. The uncertain environment created by the constant amendments to travel and group size restrictions means that key components of the event have to be re-worked throughout the planning stages. Event organisers need experts on hand to juggle the many factors involved and ensure that venues are amended with minimum cost implications, technical suppliers can service audiences in new ways, and much more.

  1. Duty of care  

Usually a mainstay of live events, duty of care shouldn’t be forgotten in digital events. For example, take into account guest registration, participant wellbeing and regular breaks, plus appropriate reminders in this environment for handwashing – especially if participants are handling any goods delivered as part of the event.

Sofie Sinoo is creative manager and events expert at ATPI Corporate Events and ATPI Sports Events. For more information visit atpi.com

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